After months alone in his cell, Scot Noble Payne finished 20 pages of letters, describing to loved ones the decrepit conditions of the prison where he was serving time for molesting a child.Of course this is in Texas. Now many people will say to this "Who cares? He raped a kid!" But what about those prisoners that didn't commit any violent crimes, you know, which make up about 80% of prisoners in the country. You can't commit human rights abuses against people just because they have been locked up. This also points out that private companies like GEO have no business running prisons:
Then Payne used a razor blade to slice two 3-inch gashes in his throat. Guards found his body in the cell’s shower, with the water still running.
“Try to comfort my mum too and try to get her to see that I am truly happy again,” he wrote his uncle. “I tell you, it sure beats having water on the floor 24/7, a smelly pillow case, sheets with blood stains on them and a stinky towel that hasn’t been changed since they caught me.”
Payne’s suicide on March 4 came seven months after he was sent to the squalid privately run Texas prison by Idaho authorities trying to ease inmate overcrowding in their own state. His death exposed what had been Idaho’s standard practice for dealing with inmates sent to out-of-state prisons: Out of sight, out of mind.The private prison business has been booming as the federal government seeks space to house more criminals and illegal immigrants, and like any private business, they care most about their bottom line. They try to spend as little money as possible taking care of prisoners, because hey, only bleeding-hearts care about the conditions criminals live in anyway, right?
It also raised questions about a company hired to operate prisons in 15 states, despite reports of abusive guards and terrible sanitation.
Hundreds of pages of documents obtained by The Associated Press through an open-records request show Idaho did little monitoring of out-of-state inmates, despite repeated complaints from prisoners, their families and a prison inspector.
More than 140,000 U.S. prison beds are in private hands, and inmates’ rights groups allege many such penitentiaries tolerate deplorable conditions and skimp on services to increase profits.
“They cut corners because the bottom line is making money,” said Caylor Rolling, prison program director at Partnership for Safety and Justice in Portland, Ore., a group that promotes prison alternatives.
...in the following seven months, Idaho sent an inspector to Texas only once. That inspection found major problems, including virtually no substance-abuse treatment, and a complete lack of Idaho-sanctioned anger-management classes and pre-release programs.Of course, this is a widespread issue and why many of us weren't that surprised by Abu Ghraib.
There’s no evidence the inspector’s recommendations were followed. And no one from Idaho visited the prison again until after Payne’s suicide.
Most of the time, the Idaho prison employee responsible for monitoring the GEO contract used only the telephone and e-mail to handle grievances, which also included complaints about inadequate church services, poor food and limited recreation time.
Problems with GEO prisons are not limited to Dickens.
Elsewhere in Texas, a female inmate’s family sued GEO in 2006 after she committed suicide at the Val Verde County Jail near the Mexican border. LeTisha Tapia alleged she was raped by another inmate and sexually humiliated by a GEO guard after reporting to the warden that guards allowed male and female inmates to have sex.
In March, an investigation into sex abuse allegations at another GEO-run Texas prison led to the firing of a guard who was a convicted sex offender.
And at GEO prisons in Illinois and Indiana, hundreds of inmates rioted this past spring.
The complaints have not hurt the company’s balance sheet. It reported profits of $30 million in 2006, four times the amount reported in 2005.